LA Sheriff's Department Conducts Early Morning Raid at Home of Prominent Democratic Official
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators searched the house of Democratic County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl on Wednesday morning as part of a criminal investigation into a county contract that was awarded to a nonprofit organization run by her close friend, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Deputies arrived at Kuehl’s Santa Monica home around 7 a.m., according to the report.
“Sheriff’s Department. We have a warrant. We demand entry,” one deputy shouted after knocking on the front door, according to a video tweeted by Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian.
Sheriff’s investigators are serving a warrant at the home of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl pic.twitter.com/qcWSICz4wu
— Alene Tchekmedyian (@AleneTchek) September 14, 2022
A few minutes later, Kuehl appeared and was given some paperwork. She was led away as several deputies entered the house, the Times reported.
According to the report, a copy of the warrant showed that the search was connected to an ongoing investigation into a contract the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarded to Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit run by feminist activist Patti Giggans.
Giggans is a close friend of Kuehl’s, according to the Times.
The investigation was sparked by allegations from former LA Metro employee Jennifer Loew that Kuehl improperly helped Giggans’ organization win a contract in 2017 to run a hotline for people to report sexual harassment on public transit, according to The Orange County Register.
In September 2020, KTTV-TV in Los Angeles reported that the “Off Limits” hotline, set up through a series of no-bid contracts, was costing county taxpayers more than $8,000 per call.
The source it cited was Loew, who was a transit security special project manager for LA Metro at the time.
“Peace Over Violence was clearly reporting self-inflated numbers, but when I learned that Metro was turning around and conveying that same information that POV had inflated to the public, I would call that lying,” Loew said.
“They wanted to hide it from you as taxpayers in LA County, and I’m here to expose it,” she said.
Months later, Loew said supervisors targeted her for retaliation, Spectrum News 1 reported. Among other things, she said, her office had been moved to a moldy room in the basement.
“I’ve been put in a rubber room essentially after whistleblowing,” Loew said in April 2021. “They can pretty much stomp people who are trying to uphold the law and do good things for the agency and the riders.”
The report said she filed complaints with the LA County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In an interview with KTTV on Wednesday, Kuehl said the investigation is based “on an old obsession by a Metro employee,” calling it “bogus.”
The county supervisor said the warrant to search her property “has no information on it” and was “signed by the judge who is a friend of the sheriff,” Alex Villanueva.
Warrant and affidavit documents shared by KTTV bear the signature of LA County Superior Court Judge Craig Richman.
“This is a bogus non-investigation,” Kuehl said. “There’s no investigation going on that would support this warrant.”
She said she “didn’t know anything about the contract” and the Board of Supervisors did not vote on whether to approve it, the Times reported.
The report said both Kuehl and Giggins — a member of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission — have clashed with Villanueva and have even called for his resignation from office.
Kuehl’s home was not the only place searched Wednesday in connection to the investigation.
According to the Times, deputies also searched Giggans’ house as well as offices at Peace Over Violence, LA Metro headquarters and the county Hall of Administration.
“BREAKING: #LASD serving warrants in multiple locations in the criminal case involving @metrolosangeles @SheilaKuehl, Patti Giggans, @PeaceOvrViolnce & Phil Washington currently in nomination process by @JoeBiden for head of FAA,” TNT Radio producer Cece Woods tweeted.
BREAKING: #LASD serving warrants in multiple locations in the criminal case involving @metrolosangeles @SheilaKuehl , Patti Giggans, @PeaceOvrViolnce & Phil Washington currently in nomination process by @JoeBiden for head of FAA. pic.twitter.com/cnu4ncwse3
— Cece Woods (@ceceswoods) September 14, 2022
The warrant to search Kuehl’s house authorized investigators to look for and seize documents or electronic files “related to the Peace Over Violence contract acquisition,” the Times reported.
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